Powerful winds topple trees, knock out power to thousands on B.C. South Coast

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses lost power as powerful winds walloped B.C.’s South Coast overnight and into Saturday morning.

Environment Canada issued wind warnings for the Fraser Valley, Greater Victoria, the Southern Gulf Islands, Howe Sound and the Central Coast on Friday afternoon, with the gusts picking up in the evening and lasting through the night.

Gusts reached 90 km/h for the Fraser Valley and eastern parts of Metro Vancouver, including Langley, Surrey, Maple Ridge and White Rock. Greater Victoria also saw 90 km/h gusts. Further up the coast, winds peaked in excess of 100 km/h.

The winds broke branches off trees and blew other forms of debris through neighbourhoods across the Lower Mainland.

On Highway 1 near Clearbook, a large tree was toppled by the winds, blocking the highway in both directions. It reopened just before 7 a.m.

As of Saturday morning, more than 20,000 customers were without power in the Fraser Valley, Metro Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast. The Surrey-Langley area alone saw thousands of outages due to multiple felled trees.

On Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, downed wires and trees caused an additional 10,000 outages.

BC Hydro said 52,000 customers were without power at the height of the storm, and the utility pleaded for patience as crews worked to restore service.

The winds didn’t affect major BC Ferries routes, although sailings between Alliford Bay and Skidegate in Haida Gwaii were cancelled on Saturday morning due to adverse weather.

Environment Canada said the winds were expected to die down across the region after noon.

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